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Five Canadians in the field of WorldTour Volta a Catalunya

Rusty Woods returns to action after recovering from bronchitis

Five Canadians lined up at Monday’s start of the seven-stage Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, the fourth stage race of the 2021 WorldTour season and the first in Spain. The race’s 100th edition was supposed to be held last year, but it was one of the event victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Woods leads the Canuck contingent; he returns to action after recovering from the bronchitis that kept him out of Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya can be viewed on FloBikes.

Besides Woods there is Antoine Duchesne lining up for his first WorldTour stage race of the season, Woods’ teammate Alex Cataford competing in his third year with Israel Start-up Nation, and Rally’s Rob Britton and Nick Zukowsky representing the only North American ProTeam at the race.

The Course of the 100th Volta a Catalunya

There is plenty of climbing in the Volta a Catalunya, including two consecutive HC-rated summit finishes, Valter 2000 and Porte Aine, on Stages 3 and 4 respectively. A decisive, rippling 18 km time trial is on Tuesday. March 28’s concluding stage contains five finishing circuits featuring the Montjuic climb.

The Contenders

The Yates twins face each other as pro rivals for the first time ever.

Adam is one part of a strong Ineos squad that contains Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz, who is contesting his first race of the year. Jumbo-Visma is putting its weight behind Sepp Kuss and Steven Kruijswijk. Movistar wields its latest trident of Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas and Marc Soler. EF Education-Nippo sends Rigoberto Uran and Hugh Carthy. Trek-Segafredo looks to continue its early-season success with Gianluca Brambilla, who nicked February’s Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var title from Woods on the final stage. Last season’s Giro d’Italia principals João Almeida and Jai Hindley are also in the house.

Monday’s Opening Stage

Race organizers tossed in three categorized climbs, two of which—Cat 2 Port de les Guilleries and Cat. 1 Port de Santa Fe del Monseny—came in quick succession. If that wasn’t enough to spit out the sprinters, a Cat. 3 ascent peaked 16 km from the finish in Calella.

Bora-Hansgrohe took up the task of pursuing a quartet of escapees. Sylvain Moniquet of Lotto Soudal snatched enough KOM points on Port de les Guilleries and Port de Santa Fe del Monseny to earn the first climber’s jersey. When Movistar took over peloton duties on Port de Santa Fe del Monseny, Peter Sagan was dropped.

Movistar’s action, which swept up all the escapees, carried on down the Port de Santa Fe del Monseny, but was all for naught. Another break took its leave of the peloton on the Cat. 3, and Ineos did a lot of work to make sure the one of the fugitives, Lennard Kämna, didn’t get too far. In the sprint it was young Lotto-Soudal rider Andreas Kron who took the victory, announcing his arrival to the cycling world. All the GC contenders arrived in a bunch soon 16 seconds later. Chris Froome and Peter Sagan finished a long way down.

2021 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 1

1) Andreas Kron (Denmark/Lotto-Soudal)
2) LL Sanchez (Spain/Astana-Premier Tech)
3) Rémy Rochas (France/Cofidis)
36) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel Start-up Nation) +0:16
85) Rob Britton (Canada/Rally) +5:35
126) Alex Cataford (Canada/Israel Start-up Nation) +11:08
139) Nick Zukowsky (Canada/Rally) +14:34
142) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Groupama-FDJ) s.t.